Embracing Widowhood

And the Physical, Emotional, and
Spiritual Changes of this new life

Part I – The Physical Changes of Widowhood

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Almost nine years ago I placed a mark in the box designated, “widow.” I remember taking a deep breath, shocked at the severity of the word. What a nasty tasting pill for sure, and difficult to swallow. For a short season, I took on “widow” as my identify. Now, after some years of healing and prayer, I realize it’s only my marital status.

As widows we are forced to face an empty house. We are alone for the first time in years, the absence of another body in the house is our striking new reality. Our spouse, who once listened, shared, advised, and disagreed with us, is gone. That certain someone we came home to after work, processed life with during dinner, and sat next to at worship on Sunday morning, is not there. 

Widowhood transforms us in many ways, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual. Things change, we don’t always accept these with grace. We did not ask for our lives to be turned upside down, and some of us are barely hanging on. Let’s examine these individually over the next three weeks, starting today with the physical side. 

For me, one of the more stunning physical changes happened in my head. Decisive no longer described me. After I lost my husband, I second-guessed the simplest choice and I would not make any changes I couldn’t undo with ease. As a former take-charge individual, a confident decision maker with the ability to move forward without hesitation, I did not recognize this new woman. The term, “widow’s brain”, was once foreign to me, but now explained the fog I daily moved around in.

Mundane and everyday tasks challenged me. An avid reader, I always loved to spend free time with a book or my Bible. When I became a widow, more than a year passed before my concentration returned and I finished a chapter without starting over. At the time I worried I would never be able to enjoy these things again.

The absence of physical touch is a biggie. The first time I went to get my hair done following my husband’s death, I fought off tears. I sat in front of the mirror and remembered that for years, I cut his hair. Those sweet memories I cherished turned into lighter moments in our life together. We joked and enjoyed this time. He would taunt me about something, and I would remind him of the scissors I held in my hand. 

Besides the loss of our intimate mate, as widows we must do without the simple touches of comfort, impromptu hugs, and strolls through the neighborhood. It’s hard to imagine never experiencing this companionship again. One day I realized I couldn’t remember what my husband’s voice sounded like. I wondered if I would soon forget other things about him. I watched a video of my husband and heard him speak. I listened and I recalled thinking his voice didn’t sound familiar. Was I forgetting him? 

Enough years are cinched under my belt and I can say I am leaning into the reality of my life. I am physically healthier, due in part to the fact I am the one responsible for getting the yard work done, walking the dog, and cleaning the gutters. I understand I must stay healthy and take care of myself. I don’t consider me a victim, or a vulnerable widow. Rather, a strong and confident believer, who knows God is always with her. I face my new normal with a sense of “God’s got my back.” He loves me and is watching out for me.

I know God’s plan for me and for the rest of my life is perfect. He brought me this far by healing my heart in so many ways that now I feel a compassion for others who are on this same journey. There is wisdom in their experiences, and I treasure meeting with them. 

Again, I can hear Him encouraging me with the words…“Be strong and courageous.” 

Note: Come back to this blog the next few weeks to read about the emotional and finally the spiritual changes we might experience when we invite God to move in our lives.

God is so good.